Medieval History Database - About This Project -
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Medieval History Database - About This Project

About the Medieval History Database

This project, originally conceived as a 3D "atlas" of medieval history, has been in gradual development since 2005. Initially, the software was based on a voxel system which used the CPU only. In 2009 this was replaced by a polygonal system using the video card. Work on the project accelerated in 2011 with the switch to a better 3D graphics platform and more realistic video effects.

The goal is to make history "come to life" via a combination of 3D reconstructions and access to detailed written records.

Today, so many extant medieval buildings are either in ruins or in a form which has been drastically altered over time. But there are often surviving paintings or written descriptions which give us a fairly clear idea of what these locations looked like in their prime. Researching the evidence requires years of labor and usually a knowledge of the original languages. Putting together 3D models and programming software to display the geometry in vivid realism is also extremely time-consuming. But the final result is the ability to explore medieval towns, cathedrals, and other locations, the closest we can come to going back in time.

The visual effects that are currently programmed include projected light from stained glass windows (creating glowing patches of color on objects); shafts of light which show dust suspended in the air (creating a realistic haze effect); procedurally-generated surfaces based on volumetric patterns (see screenshot below); simulation of the effects of light on different materials such as wood, metal, glass, and stone; realistic water surfaces with reflection effects which vary based on viewing angle, tinting of underwater objects based on suspended matter in the water, simulation of water flow, surface perturbation and surface flotsam, and other effects.

The software is continuing to evolve as new features are added, the graphics are further improved, and additional location models are added.

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